Inside the mind of a NIMBY


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Jan 12, 2007
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Ever wonder what NIMBYs are picturing when terms like "density" or "development" are thrown about?

Look no further.

Strikingly similar to what I envision, yet I get excited by it. Shanghai actually proposed doing something like this (building a city over itself to accommodate future rapid growth). Thanks for posting.
That article would have been useful a few years ago (like, say, when the Renzo Piano museum was proposed for Cambridge). The NIMBYs seem to be giving more way lately, though...guess that's why something like this can be published, taking aim at a straw man that's receding into the distance.

Also, WTF?

well-planned districts like the highly groomed South Boston waterfront
I think he means "groomed for development" in the sense that everything's in place to move forward. Not that it's well put together. Or maybe he does.
When I read that in the dead tree version, I thought someone just grabbed a bunch of posts from this forum, slapped them together and called it an article.
In the past week or so we've had the Fenway Civic Association president criticizing Keiros Shen's poor design guidance in the Fenway Point thread, Cambridge City Councilors clamoring for tall, slim towers (among other good things) for Kendall in the Cambridge developments thread, and now this in Boston Magazine. Are we seeing a shift in the general public's view of new development and urban design in general?
It's like all of Boston took a field trip to Vancouver and finally went "ohhh."
What actual power do the NIMBYs have?

If a developer said "We frankly don't give a shit about you, thanks for coming, we're going ahead anyway, sue us" would that at least force 'The Neighbors' to get a lawyer and go to court?
I think it's mostly political power over their city/state representatives, who DO have the ability to do more than bitch and moan.

That and simply the ability to use the community input phase of a project to slow it down until the developer/financier throws in the towel.
If a developer said "We frankly don't give a shit about you, thanks for coming, we're going ahead anyway, sue us" would that at least force 'The Neighbors' to get a lawyer and go to court?

This happens once in awhile in NY - developer says they'll build to the maximum allowable density, usually resulting in some horrible box, unless the community yields on some design issue they were hung up on, or stops demanding a school or whatever ransom they've come up with. Don't know why this doesn't happen more often in Boston.
The Grafton & Upton Railroad (in, of course, Grafton, MA and Upton, MA) just filed a lawsuit against a NIMBY for libel. Suck it, NIMBYs.
The owner of the Grafton & Upton Railroad hit former selectwoman and Board of Health candidate Marsha Paul with a $20 million lawsuit accusing her of slander.

Jon Delli Priscoli, a real estate and business investor based in Marlborough, filed the suit Wednesday in Middlesex Superior Court, alleging that Paul, of 20 Josiah Drive, slandered him to the media, an allegation she adamantly denies.
In the lawsuit, Delli Priscoli accuses Paul of making “slander and libel for false and malicious statements” in public and to newspapers, including the Daily News.

Those statements, Delli Priscoli said, have “irreparably harmed” his reputation and integrity.

One allegation says that Paul told the Daily News in 2008 that “she is concerned because the railroad passes by two schools in town,” and that it would create “big traffic jams” during the morning commute when it crosses roads.

Paul is also accused of seeking out the press to have her “false slanderous statements” published in various newspapers, causing Delli Priscoli “irreparable harm, bother personally and reputation wise in the community.”

The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages to be proven at trial in front of a jury.

Delli Priscoli’s spokesman, Doug Pizzi, said Thursday “The lawsuit should speak for itself,” but had no further comment.

Paul told the Daily News that she will defend her innocence with documents and meeting minutes from when she was a public official.

“I’ve never said anything negative about this man,” Paul said Thursday. “I really am shocked. I’ve never, ever said anything unfactual about (Delli Priscoli).”

Delli Priscoli purchased the Maple Avenue railyard in 2008.

Since then, some residents have openly questioned the railroad’s right to operate without local oversight.

Federal law exempts railroads from local regulation, however the Planning Board, backed by a group of concerned citizens told the Board of Selectmen in February that they intended to petition the federal Surface Transportation Board to investigate whether that is really the case.

However, the lawyer that had been in talks with the Planning Board decided against taking the case.

The Planning Board discussed representing itself pro-se at a meeting in April, however no decision was made.

“He’s saying (in the lawsuit) that I’m slandering him, and I’m not. All I want are the facts about what’s preempted. Is that against the law, to ask questions?” said Paul, an outspoken member of the citizens group.

The doubt comes from questions over a pellet packaging operation at the site, which some residents contend may not be federally protected if deemed separate from railroad activity.
This is a SLAPP suit. It should be summarily dismissed. She has every right to express these opinions. If the railroad doesn't agree with her, they have every right to make their own statement in response.
This is a SLAPP suit. It should be summarily dismissed. She has every right to express these opinions. If the railroad doesn't agree with her, they have every right to make their own statement in response.

There's more to it, from what I understand. The defendant may have been leading a NIMBY website which was full of bogus information and accusations.
Anti- NIMBYs?

Today's Globe:

Future Boston Alliance and the Business of Hipness
Posted by Devin Cole May 14, 2012 02:02 PM

By Michael Lake and Daniel Spiess, World Class Cities Partnership

Boston’s high ranking as a global innovation city and, according to one recent report, reputation as the 10th most competitive city in the world would be the pride of mayors everywhere, but Boston continues to experience its “brain drain.” Northeastern University’s World Class Cities Partnership, whose global research has focused on talent attraction and retention issues, recently hosted the pre-launch of Boston’s foremost advocate for hipness – the Future Boston Alliance (FBA). Founded by Greg Selkoe, a locally-based streetwear retailer, Selkoe and FBA director Malia Lazu described the Alliance as an opportunity for Boston and Massachusetts to seek input and guidance from an untapped core of new leaders and entrepreneurs in order for our region to compete in the 21st century. Selkoe and Lazu noted that not only does Boston need to compete in education and technology, in which it already performs quite well, but it also needs to compete in the ‘hip’ factor as featured by Michael Farrell in his recent Boston Globe article “E-retailer Hopes to Boost Hub’s Hip Factor.”

Though this hip factor may seem irrelevant to the focus of modern city policy, research shows that a city’s success rate for talent attraction and retention, the bedrock of a stable economy and the lifeblood of an entrepreneurship ecosystem, can be greatly influenced by the population’s desire to want to live and work in a creative, welcoming and fun urban environment.

Selkoe draws his knowledge from personal entrepreneurial experiences, but is also a Harvard-trained city planner and knows of what he speaks. His tenure at the Boston Redevelopment Authority shows in his awareness of the power and potential of zoning, tax incentives, citizen participation, and regulation to truly influence how the city literally shapes itself and its image, both to residents and those who are considering a move to the so-called Hub of the Universe. As a business owner who chose to start and keep his business here within the city limits, Selkoe knows that keeping and attracting workers to grow his company is not based on salary alone.

Talent attraction and retention has been a hot topic lately. The prominent Boston Globe-sponsored “Building a Better Commonwealth” series spent the second half of last year looking exclusively at talent from a variety of angles, including management challenges, the importance of life-outside-the-job attractions, and building a talent pipeline through investment in science, technology, engineering, and math education. The series recently kicked off anew with the timely titled “Loosen Up, Boston” looking at enhancing urban vitality while balancing local character and neighborhood skepticism.

Studies and reports show that while jobs tend to be the leading factor in determining whether talent (particularly recent college-educated graduates) stay or leave the area, housing affordability, weather, nightlife, and transit influence their decision as well. While we can’t change the weather, we can work toward building a 21st century city to match our #1 ranking as a young and knowledge-based center. Mayor Menino’s administration is admirably tackling this task with the Innovation District and the ONEin3 Boston program, for example, but more needs to be done. This means allowing Boston to become a 24-hour city, granting easier and cheaper access to build cultural and nightlife options, supporting the creative class through innovative zoning and business licenses, and backing up the “car is no longer king” declaration by investing in a flexible and adaptable public transit system. Boston natives, like Selkoe, along with newcomers and business owners want nothing less than this city to become even better than the sum of its parts. By allowing Boston to loosen up a bit, there is no reason why it can’t.

Michael Lake is Executive Director and Daniel Spiess is Research Director for World Class Cities Partnership, a network of global cities exchanging solutions to urban challenges

I tend to agree here. With globalization and the ability of top service based economy talent to work remotely, top talent can essentially locate anywhere it wants, or at least is less confined to location based on industry than was the case in the age of industrialization (mill cities had to locate near power, like rivers). That means the key to a strong economic outlook (good talent) may very well lie in the ability to attract people to your region not by necessity but by choice. This requires providing things people want--amenities, like museums, nightlife, cafes, shopping, recreation, etc., all things that are fostered by well designed urban spaces and places. So an emphasis in this hip factor definitely makes sense to me. Great post and thanks for sharing.